Jul 29, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 520: Batman, Inc. #7, July 2011
"So America's been invaded?
You need any advice on how to live through that, you came to the right place."
Red Raven has this to say to Batman after Bruce reveals that Leviathan has infiltrated the United States. Though Raven's offer is genuine, there's something pointed in his offer. Similarly, when Batman offers all kinds of Waynetech to help stem the infiltration, Raven lays out exactly how things work for the Native American Bat people:
"We have 80% unemployment. Teenage suicide is four times the national average, and life expectancy is the lowest in the country. We have no train, no bus, no theater. No clothing stores, no barbers, restaurants, garages, or even a mailman 'round here. We don't need Batmobiles. I mean, if you got any we'll take 'em, but whatever you give to him, he's gonna give back to the people."
And before you interpret this as hyperbolic writing, as a way of making the situation of Man of Bats and Red Raven as grim 'n' gritty as Gotham, consider that "[t]he longest running water advisory is in the Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario, where residents have been boiling their water for 20 years," as noted in this CBC article. We can look at Gotham and see it as a reflection/depiction of the kind of slide into decadence and ruin of major North American cities, but it's always worse somehow than reality. Not so with Red Raven's description of the living conditions of many Native North Americans. This is actually how things are.
Events of the last few months have had me thinking about depictions in major comics of populations that are, problematically, still called minorities. I'm putting together a series of posts on African American and Canadian comics writers and artists right now. Part of being a good comrade in the struggle these communities are undergoing is enhancing visibility, doing what we can to combat the racist erasure/appropriation of particular groups from our cultural lexicon. To be dead honest, I can't name one Native American comics creator in the major companies off the top of my head. Nor any Latinx creators, a community that was desperately wounded in Orlando some weeks ago. So I'll make it my aim over the next few years (hell, all of them if I have to) to highlight these contributions to comics, which I love, and I think maybe you love too. We have a remarkably diverse range of creators out there currently - maybe if we delve deep enough into the collection, we'll see that they've always been there.